MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Russia has struck a deal with neighbouring Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory. Here are his key remarks on the subject, made on state television and translated by Reuters.
“As to our talks with (Belarus President) Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko, the trigger was the statement by the British Deputy Minister of Defenсe that they are going to supply depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, this is somehow related to nuclear technology. Even outside the context of these events, this statement, Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko has long been raising the question of the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus.”
“There is nothing unusual here either: firstly, the United States have been doing this for decades. They have long ago deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries, NATO countries, in Europe, in six states. If memory serves, this is Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece.”
“Alexander Grigoryevich is right, he says: well, listen, we are your closest allies. Why do the Americans do this with their allies, deploy on their territory, teach, by the way, their crews, their pilots to use this type of weapons if necessary”.
“We agreed that we will do the same – without violating our obligations, I emphasize, without violating our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, we have already helped our Belarusian colleagues and equip their aircraft, aircraft of the Belarusian Air Force. 10 aircraft are ready for use of this type weapons.”
“We have already handed over to Belarus our well-known, very effective Iskander complex, it can also be a carrier. From April 3 we will start training the crew and on July 1 we will finish the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus.”
“We are not handing over (the weapons). And the U.S. does not hand (it) over to its allies. We’re basically doing the same thing they’ve been doing for a decade. They have allies in certain countries and they train their carriers, they train their crews. We are going to do the same thing. This is exactly what Alexander Grigoryevich (Lukashenko) has asked for.”
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Frances Kerry)